Well, I safely made it to Santiago yesterday morning. There was some confusion on the plane about what time it would be in Chile. Chile is one time zone ahead of the East coast of the US. (Without daylight savings time, Chile is -4UTC and the East Coast is -5UTC.) The US just went to daylight savings time (DST) and Atlanta (where I flew out of the US from) is currently -4UTC because we jumped ahead an hour. Now, because Chile is in the southern hemisphere, they are supposed to have gone off of DST in March (as we go off DST in our Fall too). But, because of the 27 Feb earthquake, they have extended their DST until 3 April, when Chile will be only -4UTC (and the same time zone as my home in North Carolina) instead of the -3UTC that they are right now. So, with the only one hour of time difference I am not jet-lagged, just a bit sleepy from not sleeping well on the plane.
The Santiago airport was a bit confusing too, but apparently less so than five days ago when my colleagues arrived. Last Sunday (15 March), the airport building was closed and they would only deplane one aircraft at a time. You would get off the plane, go through immigration and customs in a big tent and then leave, never having set foot inside the building. When I got there on 19 March, we taxied to the gate and deplaned as normal. Immigration and customs were back indoors and the money exchange and ATMs were open and available for use (there were also about a dozen helpful employees of the duty free store, ready to help you buy fragrances, tobacco, and booze by the bottle at 7am). Non-ticketed passengers were still not allowed inside the building, so all of the people waiting for arriving friends & family were waiting outside in a tent. I didn’t notice any obvious problems with the airport’s building, but perhaps everything in the areas I was in had been fixed up already.
The taxi ride from the airport into town was uneventful. Rush hour traffic was in full force and going in and out around buses was fun since the taxi seemed so small! There were many parks and statues as well as so many shops and grocery stores. So different from central Africa! The rest of the day I actually did school-related work so I stayed in the hotel. The evening included an invitation to a dinner party at the home of a Chilean professor. I will write more later but I will say that it ‘started’ at 8:30pm, we ate at 11pm, and everyone left after 2am. Nice!